NASA/NOAA Announce Major Weather Forecasting Advancement

Aug 24, 2005

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today outlined research that has helped to improve the accuracy of medium-range weather forecasts in the Northern Hemisphere.

NASA and NOAA scientists at the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation in Camp Springs, Md., came up with procedures to improve forecasting accuracy. The scientists worked with experimental data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite.

They found incorporating the instrument's data into numerical weather prediction models improves the accuracy range of experimental six-day Northern Hemisphere weather forecasts by up to six hours, a four-percent increase. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder is a high-spectral resolution infrared instrument that takes 3-D pictures of atmospheric temperatures, water vapor and trace gases.

The instrument data have been officially incorporated into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service operational weather forecasts.

"NASA is assisting the world's weather prediction agencies by providing very detailed, accurate observations of key atmospheric variables that interact to shape our weather and climate," said Dr. Mary Cleave, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "The forecast improvement accomplishment alone makes the AIRS project well worth the American taxpayers' investment."

"This AIRS instrument has provided the most significant increase in forecast improvement in this time range of any other single instrument," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator.

"Climate and weather forecasts are dependent upon our understanding current global ocean and atmosphere conditions," added Lautenbacher. "If we want to be able to predict what the weather will be like in the future, we must adequately define the global conditions today. Satellite data, like AIRS provides, is a vital link for NOAA to take the pulse of the planet continuously."

"A four-percent increase in forecast accuracy at five or six days normally takes several years to achieve," said Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation Director Dr. John LeMarshall. "This is a major advancement, and it is only the start of what we may see as much more data from this instrument are incorporated into operational forecast models at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Environmental Modeling Center."

The European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts began incorporating data from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder into their operational forecasts in October 2003. The center reported an improvement in forecast accuracy of eight hours in Southern Hemisphere five-day forecasts.

The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder instrument is the result of more than 30 years of atmospheric research and is led by Dr. Moustafa Chahine of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. It is the first in a series of advanced infrared sounders that will provide accurate, detailed atmospheric temperature and moisture observations for weather and climate applications.

The Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA and the U.S. Air Force and Navy. The goals of the center are to accelerate the use of observations from Earth-orbiting satellites to improve weather and climate forecasts, and to increase the accuracy of climate data sets.

For information about the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder on the Internet, visit: airs.jpl.nasa.gov/ .

Explore further: Hubble sees 'ghost light' from dead galaxies

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Delhi chokes on toxic smog after festival of lights

Oct 26, 2014

Thick smoke hung over New Delhi this week as millions of Indians lit firecrackers to mark the Diwali festival, but calls for a boycott highlighted growing concerns over air quality in one of the world's most ...

Europe secures new generation of weather satellites

Oct 20, 2014

Contracts were signed today to build three pairs of MetOp Second Generation satellites, ensuring the continuity of essential information for global weather forecasting and climate monitoring for decades to ...

NASA Soil Moisture Mapper arrives at launch site

Oct 16, 2014

A NASA spacecraft designed to track Earth's water in one of its most important, but least recognized forms—soil moisture—now is at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to begin final preparations for ...

Feds: Don't expect winter to be polar vortex redux

Oct 16, 2014

(AP)—Federal forecasters don't expect a return of frequent cold blasts from the polar vortex this winter. Nor should the weather system that blocked rain from California last winter come back.

Recommended for you

China completes first mission to moon and back

2 hours ago

China completed its first return mission to the moon early Saturday with the successful re-entry and landing of an unmanned probe, state media reported, in the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious ...

Tracking a gigantic sunspot across the Sun

3 hours ago

An active region on the sun – an area of intense and complex magnetic fields – rotated into view on Oct. 18, 2014. Labeled AR 12192, it soon grew into the largest such region in 24 years, and fired off ...

Possible bright supernova lights up spiral galaxy M61

13 hours ago

I sat straight up in my seat when I learned of the discovery of a possible new supernova in the bright Virgo galaxy M61. Since bright usually means close, this newly exploding star may soon become visible ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.